Saturday, March 18, 2017

What I Read in May 2016 Part I . . .

What I Read in May 2016 Part I . . .

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman (Lady Montfort Mystery, #1)Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen--Edwardian Mystery

Mrs. Jackson and the servants are busy putting together last minute plans for Lady Montforth's annual summer costume ball. The ball will be a great success, of course. Upstairs, the family is dismayed to learn of nephew Teddy Mallory's expulsion from Oxford for numerous misdeeds. This latest escapade was the final straw and Teddy will be returning to Iyntwood in time for the ball. Even Teddy's cousin Harry can't stand Teddy's lack of morals. Lady Montforth accidentally overhears a heated fight between them and when Teddy is found murdered the day after the ball, she worries that her beloved son did the deed. Colonel Valentine begins the investigation with questioning all the guests. When he rounds them up he discovers one of the young ladies, Lucinda Lambert-Lambert is missing. Downstairs, the new maid Violet is also missing. Could their disappearance be tied to the murder? Lady Montforth enlists the aid of Mrs. Jackson to help with the investigation downstairs. The mystery can't be solved until the girls are found. As the investigation goes on, secrets are revealed and loyalties are tested.

This novel contains many of the standard plot lines of a typical Edwardian novel. It's aimed at fans of Downton Abbey and probably Masterpiece Mystery. I'm tired of the usual Edwardian plots. I don't mind Upstairs/Downstairs plots but I knew right where to find Lucinda as soon as everyone learned she was missing. I was surprised none of the characters didn't think of it. I also didn't like the third person point-of-view. There were too many characters involved and Lady Montforth isn't the sleuth, Mrs. Jackson has a larger role and even Lord Montforth has a part. I had a hard time keeping track of all the people in the story, especially the guests. I did especially like how the period details were worked into the story. Facts were related through newspaper stories and gossip rather than being just tossed in the story randomly. The details help set the specific date of the story to June 1913. I couldn't guess who the murderer was until the big clue was revealed. Even then I wasn't sure and there were surprises still to come. I had to skim the final few chapters to find out who done it before I went to sleep!

I found it hard to connect to any of the characters. I liked Lord Harry and his friend Oscar the best. Oscar's secret was fairly obvious. I also liked Lucinda and how she alone saw a problem and did something about it. I admire her courage. Lady Montforth comes across as a typical society matron but with more compassion than most. Mrs. Jackson is a stiff, proper housekeeper who has a hard time stepping out of her rigid role. Lord Montforth seems nice enough but rather absent-minded or detached from the real world. Teddy was a supremely nasty character. Though I wouldn't wish death on anyone, let alone the gruesome way Teddy was murdered, but he was completely without morals. The characters hint at some character flaw that made him so terrible.

I'm not sure I'd read more of this series but I probably would if the library had the books and I had the time to read at least one more.

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